The Adventure Called Mongolia
Wild, virginal, and stark, Mongolia is an adventure on its own with the never ending plains, the steep mountains, and the mystical desert. Inhabited by people who are nomads in their roots, this vast country that is land locked by Russia in the north and China on the other sides, feels unchanged. The legend of the greatest warlord Genghis Khan still echoes in the winds that sweep the land.
Mongolia is situated approximately 1500 meters above sea level in the Northern Hemisphere. A temperate country, it is surrounded by high mountain chains that block the winds from entering the territory. It has an extreme continental climate with very long cold winters that last from November to April and shorter hot summers that last from July to September. The middle months experience spring. The average winter and summer temperatures are -20c and +20c respectively. It is known as the land of the 'Blue Sky’ because of more than 200 sunny days that the country experiences.
Flora and fauna
The native vegetation and animals are a result of the convergence of the Great Siberian Taiga and the Central Asian Steppe and Desert. There are over 3000 registered species of flora out of which more than 900 are used for medicinal purposes in Mongolia.
Being one of the least densely populated countries in the world, Mongolia is a haven for the animal species that inhabit the land. There are many national parks and sanctuaries that boast of animals like the Great Bustard, White-Tailed Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, White-Naped Crane, and hundreds of marine species that inhabit the lakes and rivers here. The Argali sheep and gray wolf are common sights while traveling in the country.
Mongolia has a very rich historical heritage. The Great Mongolian State, as a unique entity forts came into being under the leadership of Genghis Khan in the 12th century. His forays to conquer the world were continued by the other Khans including his son Kublai Khan, which made Mongol famous as an unparalleled warrior tribe. It is in the 18th century that Mongolia comes under the dictates of the Manchu rule of China.
In the 20th century, it became the second communist nation after the victory of Mongolian People’s Revolution in 1924. This regime was not very popular due to its extreme repression. It is only in the 1990s that Mongolia started to become a country, as we know it today. It has a parliamentary form of democratic government with a full fledged constitution.
Mongolia is a home to many ancient monasteries, dead volcanoes, blue lakes, sand dunes, old caves, and multiple National Parks and Sanctuaries. There are regions that are historically and culturally very important like Khuvgul, Otgontenger Mt, and Southgobi province, and have ethnic populations still residing there.
There are many cultural events that take place throughout the year in this diverse and beautiful country. People here, despite the many experiences of unrest have managed to stick to their roots and celebrate festivals in the true spirit of their ancestors. The Golden Eagle Festival, Nomad’s Winter Festival, Tsaatan Festival, Yak Festival and the Naadam Festival are cultural events that people across the globe travel to experience.
Naadam Festival is probably the most popular of them all. It is the biggest festival in the country and is celebrated nationwide from the 11th to the 13th July each year. The biggest celebration is held at Ulaanbaatar where traditional games, folklore, parades and displays come together to make it one of the most spectacular festivals in the world.
The original term Eriin Gurvan Naadam translates into ‘the three games of men’, which includes archery, horse riding, and wrestling. Girls have recently been allowed to participate in the first two games with the wrestling still reserved for the men. It is truly a manifestation of the unique culture of Mongolia that is expressed through the traditional songs, stories, dances and the titles that are bestowed upon the winners.
A trip to Mongolia is a memory of a life time with its beauty, culture, and hospitality being stamped on your hearts forever.